16 Healthy Tailgate Snack Ideas

Chicken tacos with salsa

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Whether you're munching on chips and dip or a delicious wrap, good food is part of the tailgate tradition! Homemade tailgate snacks go one step further than the store-bought varieties, giving you extra nutrients that keep you satisfied as you cheer on your favorite team. Creating nutritious tailgate snacks is a breeze with so many popular, healthy food options available like chicken, blue cheese, veggies for dipping, herbs and spices, beans, and more.

Here are some recipes you can try for your next tailgate gathering that provide plenty of protein, fiber, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and, most importantly—flavor.


Dips are a classic tailgate snack with endless variations. Think beans, yogurt, and vegetables for the base with plenty of seasonings like garlic, herbs, and spices.

Five-Minute Spinach Dip

This homemade five-minute spinach dip takes just five minutes to make and is free of excess salt, sugar, and preservatives. The dip’s creamy base comes from Greek yogurt with mayonnaise and parmesan cheese for plenty of umami flavor.

Using pre-chopped frozen spinach saves a bunch of time, and the addition of herbs and spices round out the flavor profile. Try serving this dip with vegetables, pita chips, or pumpernickel bread.

Curried White Bean and Cashew Dip

This curried white bean dip contains healthy fats, protein, and fiber. Adding cashews as a thickener and flavor enhancer makes it extra creamy and lower in fat than traditional cheese-based dips. Using soaked cashews is a trick for plant-based dips to get that thick, rich, creamy texture without the dairy.

After soaking the cashews, this dip takes only five minutes to prepare. Its bold flavors come from curry powder, cumin, and garlic. Serve with raw vegetables such as cucumbers, carrots, cherry tomatoes, cauliflower, radishes, and peppers. It is also fantastic with toasted pita or naan bread.

Smoky Butternut Squash Tahini Dip

Using butternut squash is a genius hack for creating super nutrient-dense dips. Smoky butternut squash dip uses chickpeas and dates to add sweetness and thickness, while spices like coriander, ginger, and cinnamon bring fall flavors. Smoked paprika adds a smoky richness that is sure to make this dip a fan favorite.

This is a vegan recipe, but you can add some plain Greek yogurt if you'd like extra protein and creamier consistency. If you don't have dates, you can use a different sweetener, such as maple syrup. Try serving this dip with whole wheat pita or whole-grain crackers, raw or blanched vegetables like celery, cucumber, sweet bell peppers, or carrots.

Spicy Edamame Dip

Edamame is an excellent source of plant-based protein. When used in this easy spicy edamame dip, it adds a unique flavor and nutrient profile to your typical bean dip. This recipe uses peanut butter, sesame oil, red pepper flakes, and cumin to create a well-seasoned and rich, highly flavorful dip for raw vegetables, pita bread, or crackers.

Easy 5-Minute Guacamole

Guacamole is a classic tailgate snack that tastes much better when made fresh at home. Avocados are packed full of monounsaturated fats and provide a rich and creamy texture to guacamole. This recipe takes only 5 minutes and contains only five ingredients: avocados, lemon juice, salsa, garlic powder, and salt.

Try this easy guacamole recipe with tortilla chips or vegetables such as cucumber, bell pepper strips, and jicama.

Spicy Ruby Red Salsa

Homemade ruby red salsa takes only 5 minutes and tastes fresh and vibrant thanks to ingredients such as red cherry tomatoes, red peppers, and smokey spices like cayenne and smoked paprika. 

Pair it with homemade guacamole and tortilla chips.

Finger Foods

Dishes that you can pick up and eat with your hands are classic tailgating snacks. There's something about finger food that is so appealing and tasty. They don't have to be lacking nutrients or fried in oil to taste good either. Try these recipes on your next nibble platter.

Veggie Fritters with Spicy Mayo

Vegetable fritters are fantastic appetizers that can be dipped into spicy mayo for a punch of flavor that contains plenty of fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

These veggie fritters with spicy mayo contain ingredients like grated carrots and zucchini, green onions, ginger root, seaweed, and sesame oil for a ton of umami flavor. The spicy mayonnaise makes the perfect cooling accompaniment.

Steak Spring Rolls with Peanut Sauce

In 25 minutes, you can make your own spring rolls and peanut dipping sauce, perfect for a crowd. These homemade spring rolls have less fat and sodium than the fried kind and contain plenty of vegetables for vitamins, minerals, and fiber, as well as lean skirt steak for iron and protein.

Lightened Up Chicken Wings

Chicken wings are the ultimate tailgating food, and making them at home really boosts the flavor. These lightened-up chicken wings are ready in under an hour and are gluten-free and spicy with a tangy flavor and crispy skin.

Using bottled hot sauce keeps the flavor profile familiar and tangy. Try serving these wings alongside buttermilk ranch dressing for dipping—don't forget the carrots and celery!

Farmstand Chili Tacos

Tacos are an easy way to get in your protein and vegetables without a fuss. These hearty farmstand chili tacos are ready in 60 minutes and contain plenty of vegetables like zucchini, yellow squash, sweet potato, and jalapeño. Pinto beans add texture, fiber, and more protein. 

Top them with Greek yogurt or sour cream. Add some homemade guacamole and salsa to make your tastebuds burst.

Easy Green Chili Chicken Tacos

These unique green chile chicken tacos are a cinch to make and are ready in 35 minutes. Boiling the chicken breast with some broth creates a moist and shreddable filling that gets tucked into corn tortillas alongside creamy avocado, crunchy cabbage, and jalapeño for some spice. 

Serve alongside some beans and top with salsa, Greek yogurt or sour cream. Add guacamole if desired.

Poblano Portobello Mushroom Tacos

Spicy poblanos and rich meaty mushrooms topped with Monterey jack cheese create the filling for these delicious poblano portabella mushroom tacos.

These tacos are spiced with garlic, cumin, and chili powder and are filled out with slices of creamy avocado and fresh cilantro.

Main Dishes

If you are cooking for a hungry crowd and want some stick-to-your-ribs dishes that will leave everyone satisfied, try making healthy burgers, pizza rolls, chili, and beans.

Lean and Juicy Turkey and Mushroom Burgers

Ground turkey creates a lean and filling burger perfect for covering with sautéed baby bella mushrooms. These turkey mushroom burgers are excellent as they are, but you can also top them with some Monterey Jack cheese and other favorite toppings such as mayonnaise, grainy mustard, or hot sauce.

Beef and Lentil Chili with Cornbread Topping

Lentils take the place of kidney beans here as a low FODMAP option for hearty beef and lentil chili packed with plenty of spices and vegetables. This recipe uses ground beef, but you can replace it with ground turkey or chicken if you prefer. 

The cornbread topping makes a delicious two-in-one dish, but if you would like to skip it, you can serve the chili with tortilla chips instead. Don't forget to dollop on your fresh salsa and guacamole before you dig in!

Pizza-Parlor Style Chicken Roll

This pizza parlor style chicken roll is sure to be a crowd-pleaser with its protein-rich chicken, creamy ricotta, and decadent marinara sauce stuffed into a puff pastry alongside fresh spinach and mozzarella cheese.

Its satisfyingly flaky and savory due to a brush of warm rosemary oil. The best part is that the meal is ready in under an hour.

Smoky Baked Bean Medley

Perfect as a side or main dish, this smoky baked beans medley is packed with fiber, protein, potassium, and iron. Its smokiness comes from smoked paprika with shallots, garlic, and honey to round out the flavors. Serve with guacamole and chips or inside a whole grain bun.

By Rachel MacPherson, BA, CPT
Rachel MacPherson is a health writer, certified personal trainer, and exercise nutrition coach based in Montreal.